Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Developmental Area Requirements

Course Requirements

Graduate students must be enrolled for 9 hours (3 courses) during each semester to maintain full-time student status.

First-year students in the Developmental Area typically take one statistics (384M), and one other lecture or seminar course each semester. In your first term, this other course must be PSY 394S (Fundamentals of Developmental Psychology). You should also register for the Area Seminar in Developmental Psychology (PSY 385E) if possible.

Second-year students should plan on completing departmental course requirements this year (i.e., two statistics courses, 3 core courses from at least 2 of the 3 designated areas, and ethics). Students in the Developmental Area typically take two organized courses and the independent research course (PSY 390) each semester of their second year.

Third-year students should tie up any loose ends with respect to coursework requirements. This is a good time to take the teaching course (PSY 398T or EDP 398T), after which you will be eligible to teach your own course.

Once you have reached candidacy, you should register only for dissertation credits (_99R in your first semester of candidacy and _99W for all subsequent semesters) and for courses that seem especially useful for your research — and the Area Seminar in Developmental Psychology whenever possible.


Research Requirements

Each student’s involvement in research begins during the first semester under the supervision of his or her developmental faculty advisor. The particular research activities to be engaged in are open to negotiation between the student and advisor. In most cases, this research will be preparatory to the student’s second-year project (see below). This first year should, however, be regarded--by student and advisor alike--as an exploratory year. By the end of the year, you should have fleshed out a small-scale research project with your advisor that will be implemented as your second-year project.


Second Year Project

What is it? An opportunity to obtain supervised experience in the conduct of an entire study, including identifying and conceptualizing a research problem, designing an appropriate study, writing a research proposal, pilot testing and revising protocols, data collection, statistical analysis, writing a report of the research, and defense of the project.

Who supervises it? A three-member committee, including at least two members of the developmental psychology faculty.

When is it due? A brief proposal must be submitted to your advisor, and presented at an Area Meeting, by the end of your first year. After this presentation, a full prospectus (including motivation, background, methods and analytic plan) should be submitted to your committee for review, and then orally defended by October 1st of your second year. After completing the project, the final written report (taking the form of a complete research article) and oral defense should be completed by October 1st of the third year.


Qualifying Paper

What is It? The qualifying paper may take one of two forms: a comprehensive review of a substantive area of research in the style of a peer-reviewed journal (e.g., Developmental Review or a grant proposal in the style of a NIH National Research Service Award (NRSA) or equivalent.

Who supervises it? Your mentor and one additional member of the Developmental Area Faculty must read and approve your qualifying paper. The entire Developmental Area Faculty must also be given an opportunity to comment. You must complete this step before applying for candidacy.

When is it due? The paper should be completed by October 1 of your fourth year. It should be presented at an Area Meeting shortly thereafter.


Dissertation Prospectus (and applying for candidacy)

What is it? The dissertation prospectus outlines the motivation, background, methods and data analytic plan for your dissertation.

Who supervises it? The dissertation committee consists of four faculty members (including your Chair and one faculty member from outside the department).

When is it due? Before scheduling your oral defense of your dissertation prospectus, you must be admitted to candidacy. For instructions on applying, please consult the Admission to Candidacy Policy Statement available in the Graduate Advisor’s office for detailed requirements. The dissertation proposal defense should be completed no later than May of your 4th year.


The Dissertation

What is it? The dissertation can take two different forms: A ‘traditional’ book-like format or a collection of three discrete APA style research papers bounded by integrative introduction and discussion chapters.

Who supervises it? Your primary adviser, with support from the rest of your dissertation committee.

When is it due? Typically, the dissertation project is completed over the course of one to two years. Once all data is collected and your dissertation is written, you need to schedule your oral examination (or Doctoral Defense). See the Graduate School website for an overview of procedures. You are expected to present your dissertation at an Area Meeting after its completion.

  •   Map
  • Department of Psychology

    The University of Texas at Austin
    SEA 4.208
    108 E. Dean Keeton Stop A8000
    Austin, TX 78712-1043